Writing Teens in 2008

I didn’t have email as a teen. I didn’t IM, text, Facebook. My dad got a cell phone when I was maybe a senior in high school, but it was the kind with which you had to carry a battery pack like a purse on your shoulder, like this:

In the last really involved story I was working on about seven years ago, one of my characters was writing a letter—a letter!—to her best friend.

I’m having trouble imagining this world for a teenager. I mean, my teenage characters live in this world, and all this techy stuff is part of their reality, forged into their DNA, it’s how they communicate. So this character who started to develop yesterday had a cell phone, which impressed me, because that just happened, I did not force that. But if she’s a teenager away from her friends for the summer, she’s going to be texting and emailing and Facebooking like a maniac. I guess the house they’re staying in could be Internet-free, but that seems suspect these days too. It would feel like a total copout. At some point, she has to check her email. And if this other character is somehow disconnected, offline, and living off the land, that contrast will be greater if the main character is wired. She wouldn’t be someone with a crappy cell phone, or someone who uses the computer in the library. So far she’s not someone who has no friends. I haven’t gotten that feeling. She has a cell phone when she walks in the forest.

Maybe when I discover who her friends are, this will come easier because I’ll understand how they communicate. I could always go back and populate the story with this stuff once I figure it out. Hm.



  1. Danielle said

    Jebus CHRIST, I would have no idea how to write a teenager now. I mean, other than wearing hoochie shorts and scowling into the text they’re sending at that moment, do they actually DO anything? Do they loiter at the mall? I KNOW they don’t make mix tapes. What do they DO?

    This comment made me feel eleventy million years old, by the way.

  2. ifyoubelievethenclap said

    Mix tapes…music….

    Another thing I’ll have to get into the subconscious to begin working out. The entire way teens experience music is so different than it was for us.

    Thanks for pointing that out!

  3. […] something similar here, but this is more like the Gossip Girl tour. I wrote a while back about how writing teens becomes more of a challenge as I get older, because things change, particularly technology, but […]

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